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Researcher Prove iOS Activation Lock Can Be Bypassed

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

ios-screen-lock-150x150Two researchers report that they have discovered a way to bypass the activation lock feature in iOS that’s supposed to prevent anyone from using an iPhone or iPad marked as lost by its owner.

The first report came Sunday from an Indian security researcher named Hemanth Joseph, who started investigating possible bypasses after being confronted with a locked iPad he acquired from eBay.

The activation lock gets enabled automatically when users turn on the Find My iPhone feature via iCloud. It links the device to their Apple IDs and prevents anyone else from accessing the device without entering the associated password.

One of the few things allowed from the activation lock screen is connecting the device to a Wi-Fi network, including manually configuring one. Hemanth had the idea of trying to crash the service that enforces the lock screen by entering very long strings of characters in the WPA2-Enterprise username and password fields.

The researcher claims that, after awhile, the screen froze, and he used the iPad smart cover sold by Apple to put the tablet to sleep and then reopen it. This is supposed to restore the state of the tablet from where it was left off, in this case, loading the WPA2 screen again with the long strings of characters filled in.

“After 20-25 seconds the Add Wifi Connection screen crashed to the iPad home screen, thereby bypassing the so-called Find My iPhone Activation Lock,” he said in a blog post.

Hemanth said he reported the issue to Apple on Nov. 4, and the company is investigating it. He tested the bypass on iOS 10.1, which was released on Oct. 24.

Last week, a researcher named Benjamin Kunz Mejri, from German outfit Vulnerability Lab, posted a video showing the same bypass, but on the newer iOS 10.1.1 version.

Kunz Mejri’s method is similar and also involves overflowing the Add Wi-Fi form fields with long strings of characters but also requires rotating the tablet’s screen in order to trigger the crash after the smart cover trick.

Apple has not yet confirmed that issue and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

 

Is More ZEN Information Coming This Month?

December 5, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

While waiting for Zen is remarkably like waiting for Godot, we have just been told that AMD will be holding a sneak peek of its high-performance Zen CPU on 13 December.

The preview will be streamed at 1 p.m. PST on December 13. You can sign up at AMD’s website to have a shifty. The host of the event will be the video gamer hack, Geoff Keighley and it will be called “Watch New Horizon.”

According to the email the event will be an “ exclusive advance preview of our new ‘Zen’ CPU ahead of its 2017 Q1 launch”.

“See eSports & Evil Geniuses legend PPD put ‘Zen’ through its paces. There’ll be appearances from special guests and giveaways. This is the first time the public will be able to try it themselves and see its capabilities. If you’re serious about gaming, this is an event you do not want to miss.”

What we are expecting is that AMD will show off the quad-core version of Zen. AMD will have four Zen-based CPUs in the “Summit Ridge” family launching early next year.

The top end will probably include two eight-core chips with Simultaneous Multi-Threading, and an SR5 with six cores, and a quad-core SR3.

What we are curious about is if the pricing rumors are correct. The highest-end 8-core will be $500, while a second, slower eight-core chip could be as low as $350. This will really scare the bejesus out of Intel as it is promising better performance for half the price.

Other rumors say that the six-core SR5 will hit the shops for $250 and the quad-core SR3 will be $150. Intel gear will set you back $320 for its quad-core Core i7-6700K chip, and the cheapest six-core costs $380.

Courtesy-Fud

Gooligan Malware Gains Access To Over 1M Google Accounts

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

google-bldg-150x150A new Android malware has succeeded in gaining access to more than 1 million Google accounts, and it continues to infect new devices, according to security firm Checkpoint.

“We believe that it is the largest Google account breach to date,” the security firm said in blog post.

The malware, called Gooligan, has been preying on devices running older versions of Android, from 4.1 to 5.1, which are still used widely, especially in Asia.

Gooligan masquerades as legitimate-looking Android apps. Checkpoint has found 86 titles, many of which are offered on third-party app stores, that contain the malicious coding.

 Once Gooligan is installed, it attempts to root the device, as a way to gain full control. The malware does this by exploiting well-known vulnerabilities in older versions of Android.
“These exploits still plague many devices today because security patches that fix them may not be available for some versions of Android, or the patches were never installed by the user,” Checkpoint said.
Gooligan will then go on to steal the user’s Google authorization tokens, giving the malware access to Gmail, Google Play, and other related services.

Of the 1 million Google accounts breached, 19 percent were based in the Americas, 9 percent in Europe, while 57 percent were in Asia, according to Checkpoint.

Nokia Smartphones Poised For A Comeback

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

nokia-hq-150x150Nokia smartphones are gearing up for a comeback after former managers at the Finnish company licensed the handset brand from Microsoft and struck up partnerships with Google and phone manufacturer Foxconn.

Nokia was once the world’s dominant cellphone maker but missed the shift to smartphones and then chose Microsoft’s unpopular Windows operating system for its “Lumia” range.

Nokia quit smartphones in 2014 by selling its handset activities to Microsoft to focus on mobile network equipment. Microsoft continued selling Lumia smartphones under its own name but this year largely abandoned that business, too.

 HMD Global, led by Nokia veteran Arto Nummela, wants to launch its first Nokia smartphone in the early part of next year using Google’s Android operating system.

Success will require a dash for scale by stealing business from Apple, Samsung and dozens of other players in a cut-throat industry.

“Consumers may be carrying different smartphones now, but are they really in love and loyal to those brands?” said Nummela in an interview.

The Nokia consumer brand lives on as the badge on cheaper, entry-level “feature phones” sold mainly in Asia, India and Eastern Europe, though Microsoft invested little to market the name in recent years. Smartphones typically cost anywhere from ten to 30 times as much as these basic phones, which sell for as little as $20.

“For a new entrant, having an established brand provides it with an instant on-ramp,” said mobile phone analyst Ben Wood of CCS Insight, who suggested that phone vendors with weaker brands should not take the new challenge lightly.

“The barriers to entry for the Android phone space are low,” said Wood. “What HMD has is the Nokia brand and management experience. The key to its success will be driving scale.”

CEO Nummela, who was once responsible for Nokia’s sales and product development, does not lack ambition.

“We want to be one of the key competitive players in the smartphone business,” he told Reuters.

HMD President Florian Seiche previously worked at Siemens, Orange, HTC and Nokia. Chief Marketing Officer Pekka Rantala is a former CEO of Rovio, the maker of the Angry Birds game, as well as a Nokia veteran.

“We are not going to skip any markets in the long term,” Seiche said, adding that HMD had already set up offices in 40 locations around the world.

Facebook Developing Artificial Intelligence To Patrol Live Videos

December 2, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fb-logo-3-150x150Facebook Inc is developing a way to automatically flag offensive material in live video streams, building on a growing effort to use artificial intelligence to monitor content, said Joaquin Candela, the company’s director of applied machine learning.

The social media company has been embroiled in a number of content moderation controversies this year, from facing international outcry after removing an iconic Vietnam War photo due to nudity, to allowing the spread of fake news on its site.

Facebook has historically relied mostly on users to report offensive posts, which are then checked by Facebook employees against company “community standards.” Decisions on especially thorny content issues that might require policy changes are made by top executives at the company.

Candela told reporters that Facebook increasingly was using artificial intelligence to find offensive material. It is “an algorithm that detects nudity, violence, or any of the things that are not according to our policies,” he said.

The company already had been working on using automation to flag extremist video content, as Reuters reported in June.

Now the automated system also is being tested on Facebook Live, the streaming video service for users to broadcast live video.

Using artificial intelligence to flag live video is still at the research stage, and has two challenges, Candela said. “One, your computer vision algorithm has to be fast, and I think we can push there, and the other one is you need to prioritize things in the right way so that a human looks at it, an expert who understands our policies, and takes it down.”

Facebook said it also uses automation to process the tens of millions of reports it gets each week, to recognize duplicate reports and route the flagged content to reviewers with the appropriate subject matter expertise.

Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg in November said Facebook would turn to automation as part of a plan to identify fake news. Ahead of the Nov. 8 U.S. election, Facebook users saw fake news reports erroneously alleging that Pope Francis endorsed Donald Trump and that a federal agent who had been investigating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was found dead.

However, determining whether a particular comment is hateful or bullying, for example, requires context, the company said.

The NHTSA Wants To Block Mobile Apps From Drivers

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

distracted-driving-150x150The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has proposed new guidelines that is requesting automakers to create a way to block applications on smartphones or tablets that can distract drivers.

Currently no safety guidelines exist for mobile devices when they are used while driving, the NHTSA said.

The new guidelines, which were published last week and are in a comment period, instruct automakers to create a “Driver Mode” similar to Apple’s Airplane Mode on iPhones, which takes the smartphone offline.

The new guidelines are the latest effort by the federal government to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving.

 In proposing the guidelines, the NHTSA pointed to a rise in U.S. traffic fatalities and injuries in the past two years, a good percentage of which can be connected to drivers who are distracted by mobile technology, it said.
In 2015, some 10% of the 35,092 U.S. traffic fatalities on record involved one or more distracted drivers, and those crashes resulted in 3,477 fatalities, an 8.8% increase from the 3,197 distracted-driving-related fatalities in 2014, according to the NHTSA.

Of the 5.6 million non-fatal, police-reported crashes in 2014 (the most recent year for which this data is available), 16% were distracted-driving-related crashes and resulted in 424,000 injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines distracted driving activities to include using a cell phone, texting, and using in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) technologies such as navigation systems.

In 2013, the NHTSA published Phase 1 Driver Distraction Guidelines that focused on visual-manual interfaces of electronic devices installed as original equipment, such as infotainment centers.

Those phase 1 guidelines included a definition for distracted driving as any “single average glance” that takes a driver’s attention away from the roadway for more than two seconds or “where the sum of… individual glances” are 12 seconds or more while performing a testable task, such as selecting a song from a satellite radio station.

The Phase 1 guidelines recommended that interfaces and tasks determined to be more distracting than its specified levels should not be accessible to a driver on the road.

 

Facebook Adds Popular Games To Messenger App

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

fb-messenger-app-150x150For users who enjoy the popular Facebook Messenger app, it’s game time.

The social network has rolled out a feature that allows users to play hugely popular games such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders, the company’s latest attempt to get users spend more time on its messaging app.

The new feature, initially rolled out in 30 countries with 17 games, will be available on the latest versions of iOS and Android operating systems.

A user, in the midst of a conversation, can tap on a game controller icon to choose a game and start playing. The feature also allows user to challenge their friends for a game.

Facebook made Messenger a standalone app in 2014, a move that initially irked many users. The app, however, gained popularity after the company added a host of features to it.

The social network has also added instant video and payment facilities to the app.

Facebook boasts of having more than one billion users for its messaging app, making it one top three apps in the world.

Its main Facebook app is the most popular, followed by Messenger and WhatsApp, the messaging service it bought in 2014.

Is TSMC Going 12nm Too?

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

According to industry sources, TSMC is planning to introduce a 12 nanometer half-node process to enhance competition with 28nm and lower process nodes that have been adopted over the past few years.

The chip manufacturer’s 12nm process node will join its existing 16nm process portfolio as a smaller option in order to give it a competitive advantage against Samsung and GlobalFoundries. It is expected to offer improved leakage characteristics at a lower cost than its 16nm lineup. TSMC currently offers three variants of its 16nm FinFET process designed both for high-performance devices, as well as for ultra-low power situations requiring less than 0.6 volts.

Back in September, GlobalFoundries was the first to announce a 12nm process using Fully Depleted Silicon-On-Insulator (FD-SOI) planar technology. The foundry claims that 12FDX can deliver “15 percent more performance over current FinFET technologies” with “50 percent lower power consumption,” at a cost lower than existing 16nm FinFET devices.

TSMC currently supplies 16nm chips to a number of American, Chinese and Taiwanese companies including Apple, Nvidia, Xilinx, Spreadtrum and MediaTek, while GlobalFoundries provides chips using 14nm FinFET technology for AMD’s Polaris graphics cards and upcoming Zen processors. Meanwhile, Samsung provides 14nm LPP technology to Qualcomm for its Snapdragon 820 series and for use in its own mobile device lineup.

Although TSMC’s 12nm process was originally planned to be introduced as a fourth-generation 16nm optimization, it will now be introduced as an independent process technology instead. Three of the company’s partners have already received tape-outs on 10nm designs and the process is expected to start generating revenues by early 2017. Apple and MediaTek are likely to be the first with 10nm TSMC-based products, while the 12nm node should become a useful enhancement to fill the competition gap before more partners are capable of building 10nm chips.

Courtesy-Fud

Intel Makes A Score With Delphi Automotive

December 1, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Intel has signed a deal with Auto parts maker Delphi Automotive Plc and Israeli technology firm Mobileye.

The move will put Intel chips under the bonnet of their joint effort to produce self-driving vehicles by 2019.

Intel is also working with German luxury car maker BMW AG and Mobileye on self-driving technology. However so far, the chip maker has not made much of a dent in the autonomous vehicle market.

Glen De Vos, Delphi’s vice president of engineering announced that Intel will provide a “system on chip” for autonomous vehicle systems that Delphi and Mobileye are developing together.

UK-based Delphi is talking with established automakers and new or niche vehicle companies, such as manufacturers of commercial vehicles, interested in automating vehicles, De Vos said.

The system Delphi and Mobileye are developing would likely come to market first in a commercial vehicle operating in a limited area, such as an airport shuttle or a ride-hailing service, DeVos said.

Delphi is testing its autonomous driving technology in vehicles in Singapore. By the end of this year, Delphi hopes to choose a city in the United States to launch a test fleet of self-driving cars during 2017, De Vos said. The company is also looking for test site in a European city.

Courtesy-Fud

AT&T Launches New Video Streaming Service

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

directv-now-150x147If you’re looking ditch cable TV, a new video streaming service from AT&T will be available starting today.

DirecTV Now is a flexible pay-as-you-go streaming service that starts at US$35 per month. DirectTV’s conventional satellite service is the foundation, but the content will be streamed over the internet.

Traditionally, users needed a two-year commitment and credit check to get DirecTV, but those requirements are not needed for the new service. The streaming service will work on the Roku, Apple TV, Chromecast, and Amazon Fire TV streaming devices, as well as mobile devices with Android and iOS and PCs.

There are four pricing bundles, AT&T said at a press event in New York City. Users will be able to get more than 60 channels for $35, more than 80 for $50, more than 100 for $60, and more than 120 for $70. As an introductory promotion, AT&T will offer 100 channels for $35.

The programming lineup includes Disney channels, ESPN, AMC, Turner Broadcasting, NBC Universal, Fox, and many more channels. HBO and Cinemax can be added for $5 each. A deal to add CBS and Showtime is being negotiated.

NFL Sunday Ticket won’t be available with the service, but AT&T is also negotiating to add the service. NFL content will still be available on the games broadcast on NBC, Fox, and ESPN. When CBS is added, its NFL games will be available, too.

AT&T also plans to add a cloud DVR service in the coming years. Subscribers will be able to watch two streams simultaneously on separate devices.

The interface is key to the success of a streaming TV service. DirecTV Now will be able to track the programs users are watching and provide recommendations based on categories. The content is categorized as TV shows, movies, and networks. The interface will list shows people are watching, and users will be able to search content.

DirecTV Now is the third major streaming TV option after Sony’s PlayStation Vue and Dish’s Sling TV. It’s competitive on price with PlayStation Vue, which starts at $40, but not as cheap as Sling, which has fewer channels for $20.

For AT&T, DirecTV Now is a big deal and a new way to deliver programming. It’s also a way to say goodbye to the ubiquitous DirecTV satellite receivers.

“This is the foundation for how we’ll do things in the future,” said John Stankey, CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group.

Nissan To Offer Maintenance Alert Option For Internet-connected Cars

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

nissan-logo-150x150Nissan Motor Co will mark its first major entry into internet-connected cars by offering an option in some new vehicles that will use big data technology to notify drivers when vehicle maintenance is required.

As automakers compete fiercely to develop self-driving cars and improve the customer experience inside vehicles, Japan’s second-largest car maker said on Tuesday it will begin rolling out the service in Japan and India in 2017, followed by other countries through 2020.

With the availability of new mobility options including ride-hailing and car-sharing services threatening to cool demand for individual car ownership, automakers are looking for new ways to attract loyal drivers.

 Toyota Motor Corp, Japan’s biggest car maker, announced earlier this month that it will have a similar alerting feature in the domestic version of the upcoming Prius plug-in model.

And Ford Motor Co last month announced that by year’s end, some of its models will be able to communicate with smart home devices using Amazon’s Alexa voice service.

Nissan said that it would also market the device required to access the service, which can be retrofitted into existing models. In the future, 30 percent of its existing vehicles would eventually be equipped with the hardware, it said.

The new service will be enabled by a telematics control unit which will enable the automaker and its dealer network to access information about the car’s diagnostics and location, alerting the driver to any required maintenance work.

“With connectivity we can provide better information and better service offerings to our customers,” Kent O’Hara, Nissan corporate vice president and head of its global aftersales division, told reporters at a briefing.

“We’ll know what’s wrong with that vehicle, we’ll know where the vehicle is, we’ll know what parts are needed for the vehicle … and we can provide convenient service and alternative transportation options.”

He added that connectivity services and other new technologies would contribute 25 percent of the automaker’s aftersales revenues by 2022, from “low, single digits” at the moment.

 

Is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 Going Eight Cores?

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

Qualcomm has already revealed that Snapdragon 835 is officially the world’s first 10nm SoC, and Fudzilla exclusively posted this in April 2016. At that time, Qualcomm didn’t want to officially talk about the insides of the Snapdragon 835, but a leaked roadmap claims that the new SoC has 4+4 cores based on updated Kryo 200 architecture. 

The same leak doesn’t talk about any clock speeds, but one can assume that there are four faster and more powerful and four slower cores, something that you saw with the Snapdragon 810 and the  Snapdragon 600 series. A Chinese source includes the fact that this is a 10nm FinFET processor and has a Snapdragon X16 Gigabit class modem. These two things have been officially confirmed by Qualcomm.

The roadmap details Adreno 540, obviously, with faster GPU support for 4x LPDDR 4x @ 1866 MHz memory. The new Snapdragon 835 (also called MSM 8998 internally) supports UFS 2.1 storage and it is supposed to arrive in Q1 2017. The source is quite confident that you can expect to see this SoC inside some versions of Samsung Galaxy S8 phones.

Snapdragon 660 is clearly a successor to the recently launched Snapdragon 653. The Snapdragon 653 comes with four Cortex A72 with speeds up to 1.95GHz and four Cortex A53 for power saving. The new Snapdragon 653 supports a few important features that will drive phone sales in the mainstream part of the market in 2017. The Snapdragon 653 has a Snapdragon X9 Cat 7 modem with 300 Mbps downlink speeds and 150 Mbps uplink speeds, dual cameras, and supports 8GB of RAM.

This is what you will see in mainstream phones in early 2017. Let’s not forget the Qualcomm upload plus. It comes with 2x20MHz carrier aggregation and 64-QAM modulation on both upload and download side. We think 8GB will be very big for mainstream and performance phones, but of course is pure marketing and very little to do with need or necessity.  

According to the leaked roadmap, the information about the chip potentially called Snapdragon 660 are all over the place. First they called it the MSM 8976 Plus and Qualcomm  shared on its website that the Snapdragon 653 also shares a 8976 Pro internal branding. The Snapdragon 660 and 8976 Plus might be two different chips. In any case they would come to replace the Snapdragon 653 / 652 SoCs. 

The roadmap also claims that the MSM 8976 Plus chip comes with Kryo 4×4 configuration while the Snapdragon 660 comes with Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53s. It would make a lot of sense to see the 14nm Cortex A73 quad core with four Cortex A53 cores. The GPU is updated to Adreno 512, while the Snapdragon 653 comes with Adreno 510. The 14nm makes sense as it will offer a lot of power savings compared to the Snapdragon 652 and 653, both based on a 28nm manufacturing process. 

We would not expect to see Snapdragon 660 and mysterious MSM 8976 Plus before the middle of next year at the earliest, but the roadmap also claims that the new chip comes with Snapdragon X10 300/ 150 Mbit capable LTE Category 13 (uplink) LTE Category 7 (downlink) modem.

Last and not least, the new MSM 8976 Plus might support UFS 2.1 storage and 2x LPDDR4 4X at 1866 MHz.

Courtesy-Fud

Can Virtual Reality Find A Voice?

November 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

As we near the end of a pivotal year for virtual reality, it’s clear there is still a lot of work to be done. With the arrival of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR, consumers finally have access to the technology that has commanded much of the industry’s attention and excitement for the past four years but only now can we gauge how popular it may become.

That’s according to Aki Järvinen, founder of research and consulting initiative Game Futures, currently working at Sheffield Hallam University. Järvinen will be speaking about trends in virtual reality development at this week’s Develop:VR conference in London. We caught up with him ahead of the event to find out his thoughts on the industry’s next step after this year’s long-awaited hardware launches.

“There is a definite need for VR to find its own voice,” he tells GamesIndustry.biz. “We know very little about user habits with the headsets, for example. How does the isolating, solitary nature of current VR tech affect the frequency of use and thus retention with games? Early data shows that game time spent on VR titles is nowhere close to PC titles in the same genres.

“Kevin Kelly, the former editor of Wired, has talked about how the Internet has proceeded to its current form as streams and flows, from its ‘newspapery’ web origins. I expect something similar to happen with VR games; currently, it’s about imitating existing genres with the added value of VR-enhanced sense of presence, but developers and designers should experiment with other paradigms.

“2016 has been the first proper year for developers to test the waters on if the market is profitable yet and learn about releasing games for the actual retail platforms. Strategic product decisions are being made as we speak, based on these early experiences.”

Many developers have said that virtual reality tears up the game design rulebook, requiring completely new theories and practices when it comes to game creation. By now, studios have poured years into experimenting with VR games and it would be fair to argue that the early pages of that rulebook have been written – but Järvinen believes the conventions and best practices established so far are largely temporary.

“There is a definite need for VR to find its own voice. We know very little about user habits with the headsets, for example.”

Aki Järvinen, Game Futures

With more changes expected from the headsets themselves, plus the accessories and controllers supporting them, Järvinen argues that the time span has been “too short for [findings] to stick” and that gameplay design solutions in use now will be almost irrelevant in just a few years.

“If one looks at games like Batman: Arkham VR, for example, the designers have clearly tried to turn the current constraints of the platform – lack of movement in particular – to their advantage, and design gameplay around the constraints,” he says. “They’ve done this with very deliberately crafted, static setpieces that leverage VR’s other strengths, such as experiencing the scope and scale of things in a more startling, life-like way. Yet, once those movement constraints go away, it’s hard to see anyone designing in that paradigm anymore. So it’s an agile rulebook in constant change.”

The future of virtual reality will, therefore, be defined by its hardware rather than its software, and the Game Futures founder predicts significant evolution from the devices people are picking up in stores this Christmas.

“VR has enough momentum now that it will go along the typical development path of similar technologies,” says Järvinen. “Headsets will become smaller, untethered, of higher resolution, trackers invisible, and so on. When these developments are able to coincide with lower production costs to the degree that retail price points become truly affordable, then we are on the cusp of a real breakthrough. Parallel to this, software has to evolve.”

It’s easy to argue that virtual reality software is already quite unevolved. With a handful of more ambitious or high-production projects being the exceptions, the vast majority of launch software for Oculus, Vive and PSVR is limited. Most current virtual reality titles offer a more immersive first-person perspective for long-established gameplay genres, with little more than the novelty of viewing the action through the headset to differentiate it from what has come before. Perhaps the most blatant examples are the waves of shooting gallery-style VR games, where players are restricted to either an on-rails experience, a gun turret or standing on the spot, blasting away at waves of enemies that appear in often scripted patterns.

Järvinen says the prominence of these games so far is “a concern” but believes that as the market evolves, both in terms of hardware and software, “the lesser formulas will wither out”.

He adds: “So far developers have benefited from the rush of early adopters who basically purchase or download everything. This might lead to vanity metrics, such as bloated download figures, or bloated revenue estimates, as there has been lots of free promotions, bundles, and so on. But the VR market cannot be sustained with spikes from early adopters and therefore the more inherently ‘VR’ titles and game design aspects will eventually prevail.

“VR in its current form still has too many disabling contexts in play, such as retail price, PC requirements, and the fact that many people experience nausea. While finding the new genres is important, they do not matter much if enough enabling contexts are not yet in place, and that means also cultural ones – such as social acceptability in a living room, or in public places with mobile VR – rather than just technical ones.”

The cultural challenges that virtual reality faces are by far the most significant. 2016 has seen VR find the audience it was originally intended for and would inevitably appeal to the most (that is, avid consumers of video games and emerging technology) but hopes remain high that the tech will grow to have mainstream appeal. Certainly, that seems to be the intention of Facebook, which acquired Oculus back in 2014 and earlier this year showed off new social communication functions such as virtual chat rooms at September’s Connect event.

“While finding the new genres is important, they do not matter much if enough enabling contexts are not yet in place, and that means also cultural ones – such as social acceptability in a living room, or in public places with mobile VR – rather than just technical ones.”

Aki Järvinen, Game Futures

Järvinen believes the social network has spent enough effort and money on virtual reality that “they’ve gone past the point of abandoning creating its mass-market appeal” but suggests future forms of the hardware will have more impact on the technology’s attractiveness than the companies backing it.

“True mainstream appeal would require technological developments, such as miniaturisation, but also use cases where users see obvious benefits. Facebook seems to bet on the social dimension being the latter. Creating accessible tools for VR content creation could be the home run.”

As such, we can expect to see more companies from beyond the games industry investing in the technology and those developing for it. While it might not reach the headline-grabbing heights of Facebook’s $2bn Oculus acquisition, there is little danger of funding for virtual reality projects drying up any time soon.

“The wow factor with VR is strong enough that, when executed innovatively by a capable team, investors will get on board,” Järvinen says. “Therefore I believe investments will stay steady but perhaps we won’t see news about the more exuberant sums before the market finds its own Supercell.”

Järvinen concludes by stressing that the non-games, even non-entertainment, applications for virtual reality will go a long way to not only broadening the technology’s appeal, but writing more pages of that agile rulebook.

“We should not forget applications of VR beyond games and entertainment,” he says. “I believe journalism can use similar aspirations for a heightened feeling of empathy, achieved by leveraging that sense of presence VR can produce. We are already seeing signs of this with 360 video pieces distributed via VR platforms.

“Lots of interesting stuff is also going on in medical applications and research, such as burn victim therapy via VR. Real estate market could benefit in a big way from virtual viewings. So VR will not have one end goal, but many.”

Courtesy-GI.biz

U.S. Government Dispute Claims Of Cybersecurity Skills Shortage

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

cybersecurity-jobs-150x150The U.S. government has publised what it claims is myth-busting data regarding the shortage of cybersecurity professionals. The data points to its own hiring experience.

In October 2015, the U.S. launched a plan to hire 6,500 people with cybersecurity skills by January 2017, according to White House officials. It had hired 3,000 by the first half of this year. As part the ongoing hiring effort, it held a job fair in July.

At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), “We set out to dispel certain myths regarding cybersecurity hiring,” wrote Angela Bailey, chief human capital officer at DHS in a blog post Monday.

One myth is this: “There is not a lot of cyber talent available for hire,” said Bailey. “Actually, over 14,000 people applied for our positions, with over 2,000 walking in the door. And while not all of them were qualified, we continue to this day to hire from the wealth of talent made available as a result of our hiring event.

“The amount of talent available to hire was so great, we stayed well into the night interviewing potential employees,” said Bailey.

The experience of the U.S. government seems counter to what industry studies say is actually going on.

For instance, a report released one day before the government’s job fair in July, Intel Security, in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), pointed to a “talent shortage crisis” of cybersecurity skills.

David Foote, co-founder and chief analyst at Foote Partners, is skeptical of the government’s findings, and says there’s really no unemployment among people with cybersecurity skills, “so why would they go to a job fair?”

In particular, asked Foote, why would someone take a government job that will pay less than a beltway consulting firm?

The salary for a senior cyber security specialist, with five or more years experience, in the Washington D.C. metro area is is $132,837, said Foote.

The salary range for an IT specialist in cybersecurity ranges from about $65,000 to to $120,000, depending on skills, experience and educational attainment.

Foote said the appeal of getting a security clearance may have motivated some to apply for a government job. A security clearance can open up subsequent private sector jobs.

But Foote suspects that the U.S. is focusing on hiring people it can train, and not on hiring someone with experience and who would command much higher salaries than can government offer.

In cybersecurity, experience is critical, said Foote. “Cybersecurity is something you have to do, you have a develop an instinct and you only do that with hands on,” he said.

 

Researchers Working On App To Prevent Death During Dangerous Selfies

November 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

dangerous-selfie-150x150Researchers are attempting to design an app that could prevent people from being killed while taking dangerous selfies.

Carnegie Mellon University announced that researchers there are working with colleagues at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology in Delhi, India to take on the issue of deadly selfies.

People around the globe have been putting themselves in reckless situations – on railroad tracks, on cliff edges — to grab a memorable selfie. Researchers found that individuals died falling from high places, while the most group deaths happened around water, with some dying in capsized boats.

“In India, a number of deaths occurred when friends or lovers posed on railroad tracks, which is widely regarded as a symbol of long-term commitment in that culture,” Carnegie Mellon reported. “Gun-related deaths in selfies occurred only in the U.S. and Russia. Road- and vehicle-related selfies and animal-related selfies also were associated with deaths.”

“In India, a number of deaths occurred when friends or lovers posed on railroad tracks, which is widely regarded as a symbol of long-term commitment in that culture,” Carnegie Mellon reported. “Gun-related deaths in selfies occurred only in the U.S. and Russia. Road- and vehicle-related selfies and animal-related selfies also were associated with deaths.”

According to Carnegie Mellon, the system was able to tell the difference between a dangerous selfie and one that is not risky 73% of the time.

That technology will be critical to developing an app that could be used to decrease the number of selfie deaths.

An app, which has not yet been developed, could be designed to warn a user or even disable the phone if a selfie is being taken in a dangerous situation. The problem, though, is that some people might use a warning as bragging rights that they’re brave enough to put themselves in a dangerous situation.

“There can be no app for stupidity,” Hemank Lamba, a Ph.D. student in Carnegie Mellon’s Institute for Software Research, said in a statement.

The app also could be used to pinpoint areas where people are routinely taking dangerous selfies so they could be marked as “no selfie” zones.

Carnegie Mellon also noted that an app could be used for augmented reality games, like Pokemon Go, to keep users from putting themselves in risky situations while playing.

 

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